Workers at e-commerce giant Amazon have called on the firm and its CEO, the world’s richest man Jeff Bezos, to address what they believe to be racial and social inequality at the progressive company.
The New York Times reports that despite Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ promise to reflect on “systemic racism” facing black communities and urging employes o take time to learn and reflect on Juneteenth, many employees at the firm feel that little has actually been done to correct perceived racial inequalities within the company.
Discussing the Juneteenth celebration, Bezos’ told employees “I’m canceling all my meetings on Friday, and I encourage you to do the same if you can.” Many employees noted that for them, canceling meetings isn’t an option. Many other retailers offered Juneteenth as a paid holiday to workers, whereas Amazon requested that warehouse workers wear black to acknowledge the event.
Adrienne Williams, a black contract driver for Amazon in the Bay Area, commented: “What does a black shirt do for anybody in terms of social justice?” Williams argued that if Amazon wanted to address racial inequality at the firm, it should pay its workers more. “That would cut down the pre-existing condition that is poverty,” she said.
Williams and a number of other Amazon employees and contractors are calling on the firm to address inequality at the firm by diversifying its top ranks and addressing racism in its warehouses. Amazon is being focused on specifically as the company has a large percentage of black employees. More than one-quarter of its 500,000 person workforce in the U.S. is comprised of black employees.
Most of these employees work in hourly jobs at the company’s warehouses where they earn far less than those counterparts working in Amazon’s corporate division. Johnnie Corina III, an Amazon employee who filed a discrimination complaint against the firm last week claiming that the company fosters a hostile work environment for black warehouse employees, said that it was hard to see Bezos’ comments on Black Lives Matter as anything more than lip service.
“The ‘in’ thing right now is Black Lives Matter and equal justice,” Corina said. “You can tell when something is genuine and something is not.” An Amazon spokesperson told the NYT that the company was “committed to helping build a country and a world where everyone can live with dignity and free from fear.” The spokesperson stated that employees were free to take vacation or accrued unpaid time off to attend Juneteenth events. “We respect and encourage their choice to do so,” she said.
Employees at the firm have reportedly begun collaborating on a document to propose that Amazon make diversity a new “leadership principle” at the firm, which is a guiding list of attributes that Amazon uses to hire, review and promote workers. In the document, employees cited examples of what they felt was discrimination at the company.
One account from employees states that when a black employee “said something honest, he was told, ‘You’re not earning trust,’ but when a White Stanford M.B.A. said the exact same thing, he got an accolade.” In another example, a black janitorial contractor claims that he was fired from Amazon as they thought he had taken a photo of racist graffiti in a warehouse that was posted on Twitter. The contractor, Donald Archie II, stated hat Amazon never even attempted to investigate who was behind the racist graffiti.
Dennis Moss of Moss Bollinger, the lawyer representing Mr. Corina and Mr. Archie, commented: “They are firing a black guy because of their perception that he was responsible for calling out racism in their facility.”
Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address firstname.lastname@example.org